After a Seven-year Prison Sentence, Guangdong Woman’s Whereabouts Still Unknown
(Minghui.org) After a woman in Foshan City, Guangdong Province, was sentenced to seven years in prison for her faith in Falun Gong, her family is still being kept in the dark regarding her whereabouts.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Li Yanqun, 65, was arrested at home on March 17, 2020. It took her daughter two months to find out that she has been detained in the Foshan City No. 3 People’s Hospital, a well-known local psychiatric hospital. When her daughter and lawyer later requested to visit her, the authorities rejected the request, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Li’s daughter went to the Chancheng District Procuratorate to inquire about her case on May 27, 2020 and found that the prosecutor had already indicted her on April 29. But she never received any update about it.
With repeated requests from Ms. Li’s lawyer, the judge allowed him to meet with her through a video conference 20 minutes before her court hearing on August 5, 2020. But the judge canceled the meeting at the last minute.
Ms. Li was taken from the mental hospital to a detention center to attend the virtual hearing. Only then was she notified that her daughter had hired a lawyer for her.
Two of her family members were allowed to watch the hearing in a separate room in the courthouse, but they said the audio quality was very poor and they could hardly hear what was being said. Her other relatives and friends who went to support her were kept outside of the courthouse.
The Chancheng District Court sentenced Ms. Li to a seven-year prison term on October 21, 2020.
Kept in the Dark of Her Whereabouts
Ms. Li’s family has seen her only once, virtually, since her March arrest, during her hearing. They never received any official notifications about her case, not from the police, the Procuratorate, or the court.
At a certain point after Ms. Li’s hearing last August, she was transferred to the Chancheng District Detention Center. On December 30, 2020, Ms. Li’s family received a call from the detention center and was told that she was no longer there. The caller asked them to pick up the 500 yuan that Ms. Li’s daughter had deposited for her, which wasn’t used at all.
The Chancheng District Court texted Ms. Li’s family on January 6, 2021, and urged them to pay her 7,000 yuan fine. Another court staff member called them two days later and demanded that they pay the fine. The court staff member threatened that without paying the fine, Ms. Li would have no chance of her term being reduced in prison.
Ms. Li’s family replied that they hadn’t received the decision of her appeal case, but the person who called them said they weren’t responsible for mailing the verdict.
The court mailed another letter to Ms. Li’s family on February 3, 2021, demanding that the fine be paid. The letter didn’t mention a word about her current detention location.
Ms. Li’s family suspects that she has been taken to the prison. But they've never received any notification from any prison about sending clothes or daily necessities to her. They are now very worried about Ms. Li’s safety and wellbeing.